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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Protestors outside the Capitol in Lansing encouraging electors to not vote for Donald Trump.
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

Protestors are gathering outside the State Capitol today before the state's Electoral College electors meet there.

While traditionally the electors – who are chosen by the state’s winning party – vote for the state’s winner, some protestors are trying to urge them to break tradition.  

Jessica Prozinski is a founder of Stop Trump Ann Arbor. She says president-elect Donald Trump is unfit for the presidency. Prozinski says the electors have a “constitutional obligation” to prevent a Trump presidency.

A lot of attention is being paid today to the usually almost-anonymous job of being a presidential elector.

This afternoon at the state Capitol, in the state Senate chamber, Michigan’s 16 votes for president will be cast by presidential electors - one vote for every congressional district in the state, plus two at-large electors.

It’s a little-noted honor to be an elector. Typically, it’s held for party stalwarts looking to be a footnote to history.

DONALDJTRUMP.COM

DETROIT - Electors in Michigan are in line to obey state law and vote for Republican President-elect Donald Trump.

The state requires the 16 members of the Electoral College convening Monday at the statehouse to vote according to the results of the Michigan's presidential election, which Trump won by .2 percentage points. Still, electors surveyed by The Associated Press say they support him regardless.

Elector Joseph Guzman, a Michigan State University assistant professor, says Trump is "my candidate," and he would vote for him even "if there were no rules."

Ken Sikkema expects the Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing to be even more conservative in 2017.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The lame duck session wrapped up in Lansing this week. In this Week in Review, Michigan Radio Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about bills that made it through the Legislature and one that didn't. They also discuss an important anniversary in the Flint water crisis.

An anniversary in Flint

Infographic.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

With one landmark ruling in 2012, the United States Supreme Court made it clear: mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole for teenagers under 18 are unconstitutional. They said the sentence is considered "cruel and unusual punishment" under the 8th Amendment.

The justices cited research on brain development to determine their ruling.

From the majority opinion in Miller v. Alabama:

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder hopes experts may soon provide clarity on when Flint's tap water will be safe to drink without a filter.

  In an interview with The Associated Press, Snyder said he's looking forward to a January "data summit" to review the water quality.

  He said healing Flint is a long-term effort, and his administration is focused not only on the water system but adding jobs and opening more preschool slots for disadvantaged kids.

Between late 2013 and mid-2015, Michigan’s automated system for processing unemployment insurance claims flagged 53,633 cases of fraud.

But a new state review of some of those cases found that the system was wrong — 93% of the time.

That’s prompted U.S. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, to call for a full review of all the fraud cases auto-adjudicated during that period.

U.S. Senate chamber
US Senate

Michigan’s U.S. Senators have serious concerns about President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees so far.

Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow said they will work with the new administration regardless of who is appointed, but they also believe it will be difficult to get support from Trump’s current nominees.

Peters said the cabinet picks don’t make much sense to him.

Public Domain / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It was almost 4 a.m. on July 23, 1967 when police raided the Detroit blind pig owned by William Scott II. As they led the occupants of the illegal after-hours drinking club out to waiting paddy-wagons, a crowd gathered. Frustrated by years of racism and police abuse, the crowd soon grew angry with the police.

These were the beginning moments of the 1967 Detroit Riot, which would last five days, eventually claiming 43 lives.

In a recent piece in Bridge Magazine, Bill McGraw tells the story of the family at the center of that momentous night. He told Stateside that, while William Scott II was the owner of the club, it was William's son, Bill Scott, who was more directly involved in the events that sparked the riot.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The lame duck session for the Michigan Legislature has come to a close. Some people have called the end-of-year session "strange," but you can't say it was boring. There were a number of bills pushed through before lawmakers headed home for the holidays.

Now that the dust has settled, Susan Demas publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, joined Stateside for their weekly political roundup to break it all down.

Today we hear from the first, and so far only, juvenile lifer in Michigan to get a second chance. And we learn how DeVos family donations have influenced education in Michigan.

Michigan State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This is the final day of lame duck in Lansing.

The proverbial midnight oil was burned as lawmakers worked all through the night, took a quick break, and then headed back to their chambers for more work.

Michigan Radio's Lansing Bureau Chief Rick Pluta joined Stateside today live from the Capitol.

According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, the DeVos family has given roughly $14 million to political campaigns and causes over the last two years.
BetsyDeVos.com

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has demanded that Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, ensure payment of millions of dollars in  fines and penalties her political action committee owes to the State of Ohio. 

In a letter sent yesterday to DeVos, Brown asked that this happen before DeVos' Senate  confirmation hearing.

Brown was joined in the letter by three other Democratic U.S. Senators and Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.

Betsy DeVos had her confirmation hearing moved to January 17.
BetsyDeVos.com

When Donald Trump announced West Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos as his pick for Secretary of Education, reaction was mixed. Many wondered aloud how someone who has advocated for major changes in education, but who has never taught, would be qualified for the post. 

Recent secretaries have included a former Governor, the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, a former college dean and school superintendent and others with doctorates in education. Virtually every piece written about the nomination of Betsy DeVos describes her along the lines of as a "Michigan philanthropist" or a "leading Republican donor". 

Others think at least a part of the answer as to why she was nominated for this post lies in the deep pockets of the DeVos family.

Snyder wants to tackle retiree costs in 2017

Dec 15, 2016
Photo of Gov. Rick Snyder
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder wants municipalities and labor unions to jointly study how best to tackle retiree health care costs after Republican lawmakers removed a contentious proposal to aggressively curb the benefits from the postelection agenda.

Flickr user sj carey / Flickr

Detroit is putting landlords on notice: Heat your rental units properly, or face some major fines.

David Bell, director of the city’s Buildings, Safety and Engineering Department, says inspectors are targeting 143 homes and buildings that received violation notices in the past year.

“They’ve got three days to reach out to us and call for re-inspection. We’ll get somebody out there,” Bell said.

“We know that you have outstanding violations, and we’re not going to let them slide. You have to do what is right by city code, and by your tenants.”

The water crisis in Flint, Mich., didn't start a year ago. For almost two years, officials told residents the water was fine when it wasn't.

Later the officials told residents to drink filtered water — unless you're a baby or pregnant — in that case drink only bottled water.

Then they said tap water is safe for everybody, as long as you have a filter.

But now lots of people in Flint don't believe anything officials tell them.

"Don't drink the city water. Don't drink Flint water, period," says Jennice Badon says, who lives in the city.

Andrew Pennebaker / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state of Michigan is asking a judge to drop an order that requires water delivery in Flint for residents who don't have a filter.

In a court filing Tuesday, the state says tests show Flint water is in compliance with federal standards for lead. Separately, Virginia Tech expert Marc Edwards says his tests also show significant improvement.

Still, the state and Edwards both say residents should not drink unfiltered tap water.

It's been a year since Flint's emergency declaration, and today we learn what's behind the ongoing tug-of-war between the state and a federal judge. And, our series continues: we discuss who should resentence juvenile lifers – a judge or a jury.

“I don’t think these are radical ideas, to act justly, to think deeply, to think critically," Kuilema said. "In fact in a post-truth moment, I think that’s what we need more of.”
Ryan Grimes / Michigan Radio

 


To some, the idea of a “watchlist” raises uncomfortable thoughts and worries about infringement on people’s constitutional rights.

There’s a basis in our history for those concerns: the “Red Scare” from Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s. The post-9/11 Terrorist Watchlist, with its various secondary lists, such as the no-fly list.

As lawsuits challenge the constitutionality of these watchlists, courts are ruling that these lists are treading on due process rights spelled out in the Constitution.

And now there’s a new website called Professor Watchlist. Its self-described mission is to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”

Professor Watchlist is a project of Turning Point USA, a conservative youth group founded by Charlie Kirk in 2012.

Joseph Kuilema is a Calvin College professor who teaches social work. His name was added to the Professor Watchlist a few weeks ago because of an op-ed he wrote addressing institutional racism and white privilege.

National Guardsmen delivered bottled water in Flint earlier this year.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Here we are at the one-year anniversary of the declaration of emergency in Flint, and we’re in the midst of an all-out tug-of-war between the state of Michigan and federal judge David Lawson.

Twice now, Judge Lawson has ordered the state to deliver bottled water to certain Flint residents.

But the state continues to fight that order.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

After a lot of back and forth in the courtroom, a federal judge halted the presidential ballot recount in Michigan last week before it was finished.

For This Week in Michigan PoliticsMorning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what we've learned from the recount process and whether state law makes it harder to recount precincts most likely to need a recount.

They also talk about a couple of bills from this year's lame duck agenda.

One of the bills would've tightened up voter identification laws, but the Senate plans to adjourn for the year without taking it up. The other, which won approval from the Legislature, will provide some compensation to people who've been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated.  

 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A year ago today, Flint, Michigan’s mayor declared a state of emergency because of lead contaminated drinking water.  

That attracted national outrage and sympathy, as well as millions of gallons of donated water.

But a year later, donations have slowed to a trickle and unfiltered water is still unsafe to drink.

From their hometown streets to the halls of the nation’s capital, Flint residents have spent 2016 demanding drinkable water.

But as the year nears its end little has really changed.

Michigan Republican Party chair McDaniel picked to run RNC

Dec 14, 2016
migop.org

President-elect Donald Trump wants Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel to be national party chairwoman, in part as a reward for the party carrying Michigan for the first time in 28 years.

The choice of McDaniel to serve as Republican National Committee chairwoman was confirmed Tuesday night by a person familiar with Trump’s decision. The person asked for anonymity because the announcement has not yet been made.

user eyspahn / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The attorney for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein says a state inquiry into ballot irregularities shouldn’t focus strictly on problems in Detroit.

The recount last week turned up large discrepancies in 20 Detroit precincts between the number of votes counted and the number of ballots that were stored. That was before the recount was stopped by a court order.

Rick Pluta / MPRN

The vote recount in Michigan has ended. But it did reveal some problems.

The Secretary of State is planning to audit several Detroit polling places because of irregularities. The number of ballots in the recount containers did not match the number of voters who signed in. In other counties, there were some additional discrepancies as well.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has given Flint permission to build an approximately three mile section of water pipeline to link the city to the new Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline to Lake Huron.

The Flint segment of pipeline will supply raw lake water from the KWA pipeline to Flint's water treatment plant.

According to Bryce Feighner, chief of the MDEQ's Office of Drinking Water and Radiological Protection, this is an important step for Flint.

Today we kick off our series Michigan's Juvenile Lifers: Who Gets a Second Chance? And, we learn what's moving through the legislature and what's not in these final days of Michigan's lame duck session.

Michigan's lame duck session ends on Thursday.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week marks the final few days of the 2015-2016 session of the state Legislature. Soon it will be “curtains down” on lame duck.

As Zach Gorchow of Gongwer News Service puts it, it’s time to see which bills are dead, which are “extremely sleepy” and which are alive in these final days of lame duck.

Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

As this infographic shows, only Pennsylvania ranks higher than Michigan when it comes to handing out life sentences without the possibility for parole to juveniles.

The U.S. Supreme Court says states have to review these sentences for all those who were convicted and sentenced as juveniles, and that "life without the possibility of parole" should only be reserved for "the rarest of juvenile offenders, those whose crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility."

Click on the graphic to see more.

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